If GPS Could Talk…

 

slow

Forsman & Bodenfors wants to make sure drivers “drive 25 to keep kids alive,” and they’ve found an ingenious way to do it. Talking GPS are standard features in modern vehicles, but the agency has conceptualized an app that will switch the voice on the GPS to a child’s when within range of a school, daycare, or other area populated by children.

It’s currently available in Sweden, Finland, and Norway, and comes pre-loaded with all schools and daycare centers in the Nordic region.

The agency hopes that this will serve as an audio reminder to drive carefully and watch for children, reducing the number of accidents in school zones and other kid-friendly areas.

What Sparks Our Fire: Using innovation and unconventional problem-solving to draw attention to an often-ignored safety hazard

Tech Goes Green

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Sustainability has been a growing trend in business for years now as climate change becomes a more prevalent threat, however, now technology companies especially have realized that sustainability is a good investment.

Sustainability “ensures business continuity by conserving resources,” and now more than ever, economic and environmental sustainability are vital to businesses’ longevity and productivity.

In 2014, Unilever CEO Paul Polman declared that climate change-related natural disasters are costing Unilever at least $300 million a year. To combat this, several companies have come up with ways to conserve energy and other natural resources.

Creating environmental products is one such step. Samsung, for example, has taken the lead and released a solar-powered laptop, as well as three “green” mobile phones made of corn starch bioplastic and have energy-efficient chargers and recyclable packaging.

In order to ensure the future of the planet–and technology–it’s up to other companies to follow in Samsung’s small carbon footprints.

What Sparks Our Fire: Companies taking on a greater accountability for their sustainability and making moves to make sustainability a universal practice.

 

Raising the Bar

obi

The next step for global connectivity? A smartphone for the developing world. And it’s designed by none other than John Sculley, former Apple executive and Robert Brunner, the designer behind Beats by Dre headphones.

The Obi Worldphone marks a greater push toward accessible technology–Sculley aims to provide developing countries in places like Africa and Southeast Asia with high-powered, affordable smartphones, which he predicts will replace their needs for personal computers.

In addition to its sleek design, the phone is tailored to its target consumers’ preferences. For example, in sub-Saharan Africa, texting, taking photos, and banking are popular uses for smartphones, so the Obi Worldphone has features like a 13-megapixel camera and a diverse marketplace of applications.

The phone will retail for $200, a reasonable price to most first-world Americans, but still may be a problem for the standard income in a developing country.

What Sparks Our Fire: A quest for a high-powered but inexpensive smartphone that makes technology more available on a global scale.

Penny For Your Thoughts

minimum wage machine

Minimum wage in the United States is recognized as a sign of financial instability, but it is rarely understood exactly how incredibly draining minimum wage labor actually is.

Blake Fall-Conroy, an artist who strives to create “socially-conscious” pieces, has conceptualized an ingenious way to demonstrate the frustrating, monotonous, and often demeaning plight of minimum-wage worker.

Fall-Conroy invented the “minimum wage machine,” a device with a hand-crank that the user turns continuously, and dispenses a penny every 4.5 seconds. An hour will earn you $8 in pennies, which until eight months ago was the minimum wage in the state of New York.

The artist hopes that the machine will help people understand the amount of work that goes into making just $8/hour, and perhaps inspire sympathy for those who work minimum-wage jobs or provoke change in legislation that will raise the minimum wage (the minimum wage in New York is now $8.75).

What Sparks Our Fire: Art that serves a purpose and sparks social awareness.

Superheroes Built From Scratch

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It’s no secret that Google has a broad spectrum of interests, and they’ve even got a new parent company to prove it. Recently, the Google Impact Challenge: Disabilities, which strives to spur innovation that helps “create more access and opportunity for the one billion people living with disabilities,” granted $600,000 to e-NABLE, a nonprofit organization that uses tools like 3D printing and bionics to create solutions for the disabled.

Examples are the hot pink bionic hand that e-NABLE created for a little girl, Ari Solorio, who was born without a hand. e-NABLE, the Google-funded nonprofit organization of volunteers in charge of creating Ari’s bionic hand, takes advantage of the growing 3D printing trend and the do-it-yourself movement. AIO Robotics supplied all the 3D software responsible for creating the device, and so far about 40 have been made.

These prosthetics, rather than awkwardly attempting to imitate human flesh, are brightly colored and look like something out of an Iron Man comic, some with claws and flashing lights. They are designed with the intention of helping kids take pride in their artificial limbs, rather than be embarrassed by them.

e-NABLE has made it clear that subtle is not their style–and kids are loving it.

What Sparks Our Fire: Technology designs that are not only functional, but fun for kids and help